LINGUIST List 5.457

Wed 20 Apr 1994

Disc: Accents

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Cathryn Williams, Re: 5.438 Accents
  2. , Re: 5.437 Accents
  3. , Re: 5.442 Accents
  4. "RANDY J. LAPOLLA", Re: 5.442 Accents
  5. "Don W.", Accents south to north

Message 1: Re: 5.438 Accents

Date: Tue, 19 Apr 1994 14:26:55 Re: 5.438 Accents
From: Cathryn Williams <>
Subject: Re: 5.438 Accents

I have been reading the discussion on accents with interest and have
an obnservation:

Having lived in London most of my life, I am very well acquainted
with the cockney accent and so was surprised when I read that Bob
Hoskins (of Roger Rabbit fame) was mistaken for an Aussie...But this
comment for some reason reminded me of Dick Van Dyke in Mary
Poppins...He was supposed to be a cockney chimneysweep, although his
immitation of the cockney accent has since become famous (at least in
the UK) for its inaccuracy!!!
I can also think of other actors ( cf. Keaneau Reeves in 'Dracula',
Kevin Kostner in 'Robin Hood' and Robin Williams in 'Mrs. Doubtfire')
who have immitated British English accents, these, again, not
accurate and have themselves gained notoriety for this!!

Is the inverse true of British actors immitating American accents?
Perhaps someone could shed some light on this...

Cath.Cathryn Williams
Dept. Language and Communication Studies
Cardiff University.
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Message 2: Re: 5.437 Accents

Date: Tue, 19 Apr 1994 11:08:15 Re: 5.437 Accents
Subject: Re: 5.437 Accents

When I asked whether New Yorkers can fairly make fun of people from
Brooklyn (I meant those with a Brooklyn accent), my question was
rhetorical. They can, either with good humor or condescension. My
point was to underscore the possibility that Cokie Roberts spoke with
tongue-in-cheek, as someone suggested.

I have lived in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, but have an upstate
NY accent. Frequently, those who speak with stigmatized accents say
I don't have an accent. Middle-class accent speakers, however, are
quick to notice that I make no distinction between Mary/marry/merry.

There are other distinctions as well that set off the middle-class NY
speech from a more general mid-Atlantic, but they probably are not
easily recognized then stereotyped by the general public. As such
they make lousy radio commentary.

Incidentally, are the English offended by the trite "clipped British
accent" characterization?

Bill King Univ. of Arizona
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Message 3: Re: 5.442 Accents

Date: Tue, 19 Apr 1994 11:37:33 Re: 5.442 Accents
Subject: Re: 5.442 Accents

I used Brooklyn as a well-known example. The "distinctions" are
probably a matter of intensity and a few lexical variants like
"sangwich" for sandwich. It's stereotypically Bronx, but may be
found in various pockets throughout the city.
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Message 4: Re: 5.442 Accents

Date: Wed, 20 Apr 1994 10:48:01 Re: 5.442 Accents
Subject: Re: 5.442 Accents

In reply to Michael Kac, I would say there really are differences
of accent between the Brox, Brooklyn, and Long Island. There
definitely are class differences as well, and ethnic differences,
so the picture is quite complex, but for example in my family
my sister-in-law (from the Bronx) speaks differently from me (western
Long Island), and also differently from my grandmother (Brooklyn),
who also speaks differently from me. (We are all working-class
2nd-3rd gen. Italian-Americans.) Eastern Long Island is still
yet another accent.

This is also true of Boston (i.e. that there are several distinct
accents), as far as I know, and definitly true of Beijing (though
not English speaking, the phenomenon is the same).

In all these places, different ethnic groups and different classes
became concentrated in different places, and developed distinct
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Message 5: Accents south to north

Date: Wed, 20 Apr 1994 01:13:19 Accents south to north
From: "Don W." <webbdCCVAX.CCS.CSUS.EDU>
Subject: Accents south to north

>With respect to misinterpreted accents, I have yet to see a movie
>which takes place in New Orleans where the filmmakers even come close
>to getting the accent right. As a native, it's terribly distracting

Are there examples of Southerners who "imitate" a "northern"
accent, whatever that might be, in the media or on the stage
or screen? Bill Moyers and Jim Lehrer don't bother to hide
their accents, but Brent Spiner's Texan seems to have been
modified somewhat, perhaps being unsuited to an android.
Are there other examples, and how successful are they?

Don W. (DonWebbCSUS.Edu)
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